Willmott Dixon wins £18m historic cinema restoration

Aaron Morby 1 year ago
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Willmott Dixon Interiors has secured another landmark historic building restoration in London.

The fit-out specialist has earned top billing to deliver an £18m conversion of Walthamstow’s grade II EMD cinema into the UK’s finest theatre for comedy.

The art deco landmark opened as the Granada cinema in 1930. In its heyday, it hosted performances by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and Johnny Cash.

After closing in 2003, it became derelict and was on the buildings at risk register.

It will now be transformed into a 950-seat comedy hub run by Soho Theatre.

The intricate refurbishment will include reshaping the seating and stage to allow live performances with improved sightlines, while the ziggurat ceiling and the building’s frontage will be restored to their former glory.

Willmott Dixon Interiors is working with architects Pilbrow & Partners and the QS Stace on the scheme

Graham Shaw, managing director for Willmott Dixon Interiors said: “We are delighted to be involved in restoring this historic landmark that is part of Waltham Forest’s heritage so it can once again be a popular venue for people to visit.

Our team has configured the site to meet the latest guideless to ensure it is Covid-19 secure so we can carry out the refurbishment safely during the current pandemic.”

The project follows similar schemes by Willmott Dixon to transform Grade 2* and heritage property across the UK into popular entertainment venues, including the Stockton Globe, Colston Hall in Bristol, Darlington Hippodrome, Octagon Theatre in Bolton and Eltham Cinema in Greenwich.

Virtual planning


In a sign of the times and a pointer to the new normal, Willmott Dixon Interiors utilised technology to get the scheme through the planning process. This included presenting to Waltham Forest’s virtual planning committee via a Teams call that was livestreamed on YouTube for the public to watch, with further presentations and Q&A sessions to statuary bodies like the Met Police, Historic England and The Twentieth Century Society via webinar to ensure Covid-19 did not disrupt construction timescales for the cinema by delaying the planning process during the period of restricted movement.

 

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